BUDGET: Consultation launches on Liverpool Citizens Support Scheme
Liverpool City Council has begun a budget consultation on a proposal to reduce funding for Liverpool Citizens Support Scheme.
The council is facing unprecedented budget pressures which means that it has to find savings of £73M in 2023/2024, and further savings in the two following years.
One of the savings options relates to the Liverpool Citizens Support Scheme and we are looking to achieve savings of £1.1M from this scheme by removing or replacing some of the items and services currently available.
The Liverpool Citizens Support Scheme is a discretionary local welfare provision scheme, provided by the council.
It provides assistance for Liverpool residents who find themselves in an emergency or crisis. There are two types of award:
Emergency cash assistance to help residents with food and fuel
Replacement of domestic appliances and furniture to support people to move into a new home or remain in a home
We are proposing four changes to the items and services currently offered:
1. Introducing a ‘Repair or Replace’ element for domestic appliances
The Liverpool Citizens Support Scheme currently spends in excess of £400k per year providing replacement domestic appliances. Replacement items are provided to residents who either do not have a particular appliance or where an appliance is broken. By introducing a repair or replace element an engineer will be sent to the resident’s home to attempt to repair the domestic appliance. Where the engineer determines that an appliance cannot be repaired or is uneconomical to repair, a replacement will be provided. The replacement will be a refurbished appliance in the first instance and where this is not available a new appliance will be provided. This proposal will save up £400k per year and will reduce the environmental climate impact of providing large numbers of new appliances.
2. Stop providing furniture packages for some tenants
The Liverpool Citizens Support Scheme provides furniture packages, totalling £500k per year, to tenants of Registered Social Landlords. However, Registered Social Landlords are able to provide furnished tenancies and can recover the cost of these by applying a service charge to the rent. The tenant can claim this service charge through their housing benefit or Universal Credit Housing Costs. This proposal will save up to £500k per year.
3. Removing the availability of some items
The Liverpool Citizens Support Scheme provides an extensive range of items from cutlery packs and bedding through to large items of furniture and domestic appliances. Reducing some items or only providing recycled items would reduce the overall expenditure of the scheme. This proposal will save up to £100k per year.
4. Replacing cash awards with supermarket vouchers
The Liverpool Citizens Support Scheme currently provides cash awards for people who find themselves in an emergency situation. It is proposed that cash awards are removed from the scheme and replaced with supermarket vouchers. The Council can achieve some savings through discounts by providing supermarket vouchers instead of cash. This proposal will save up to £100k per year.
If these proposals are not taken forward the council may have to find £1.1M savings somewhere else and this may result in some other services being stopped or reduced.